Zimbabwe: Mnangagwa’s inauguration marred by arrests, torture of political activists

Emmerson Mnangagwa President of Zimbabwe was re-elected in August this year

Human rights organisation Amnesty International says the inauguration of Emmerson Mnangagwa for his second term as President has been marred by reports of attacks against opposition party activists and threats against those trying to organize peaceful protests.

According to Amnesty, there is a political climate of fear and reports of multiple human rights abuses, including arbitrary arrests, abductions and torture of opposition party activists in Zimbabwe.

Khanyo Farisè, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa, said nobody should be persecuted simply for exercising their human rights.

“Everyone, regardless of their political affiliation, should be able to freely participate in peaceful activism without fear of abduction or harm,” said Farisè.

The Amnesty deputy director urged Zimbabwean authorities to immediately stop issuing inflammatory statements that could incite attacks against political activists, human rights defenders and other people.

Farisè said: “The authorities also must ensure a peaceful post-election environment by fully respecting, protecting and ensuring the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, association and expression.

“They must also conduct prompt, thorough, impartial, independent, effective and transparent investigations into pending cases of enforced disappearances, abductions, and torture. Those suspected of responsibility for these crimes must face justice in fair trials. Victims and their families must be provided with access to justice and effective remedies.”

Zimbabweans voted in presidential elections on 23 August and on 26 August 2023, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission announced that President Emmerson Mnangagwa of the ruling ZANU PF party had secured re-election after gaining a majority of votes.

Cases of arrests, abduction, assault and torture have been reported both during and after the election. On 2 September 2023, Womberaiishe Nhende, the elected Councilor for Glen Norah Ward 27 in Harare, was abducted and tortured before being dumped on the outskirts of Harare.

Nhende was also among a group of individuals who were seriously injured during skirmishes with Zanu PF activists that led to the death of Tinashe Chitsunge, a political activist for the opposition party Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), on 3 August 2023.

The CCC is disputing the election results saying the electoral process was marred by irregularities.

Mnangagwa has been sworn in today but President Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi was among several presidents from the SADC region who did not attend.